Rita Hopper / July 31st 2016 / 1,000 Gifts

Be Thou my vision…that was the notation underneath the date on my new journal that pretty much coincided with the beginnings of this little journey that Daryn has asked me to describe. He and I had been talking about worship, what a heart of worship looks like and how to cultivate it daily. I don’t know about you but I am constantly surrounded by noise… noise from the world bombarding me from outside and thoughts like bowling balls crashing around inside my head. It seems like there is very little space to squeeze in a heart of worship. Almost 2 years ago I began a journey when a friend loaned me a book called 1000 Gifts. The book was about one woman’s journey as she was encouraged in a dark time to record, 1 by 1, God’s gifts to her as she experienced them day-to-day. Her encouragement, in turn, was that readers might begin their own journey of recording 1000 gifts. I almost quit reading it because the author’s writing style made me crazy but I persevered and surprisingly, I thought for myself, by the end of the book I was compelled to begin my own list. I’m now closing in on 2000 in those couple of years… the gifts I have recorded run the gamut from the amazing big things like the privilege of praying with a dying man that God would reveal himself to this man this side of eternity…. to the whimsical like admiring the little blue flowers (I call them my Little Blues) on the plants at my front door….or my peanut butter bread landed right side up!….on to the situations I cannot yet even see as gifts (God, I don’t have any idea how this can be a gift but I know you are good so I am trusting there is a gift in it). What cultivating this habit has done is teach me in the midst of busyness to always be looking for the gift; to be aware of the little prayers I breathe when in momentary need or fear; or exclaim the glory of God in the sunset, the rainbow, the night sky; the power of God in the magnificent thunderhead forming before the storm; to see his care for me personally and individually in the little things like the averted accident or a passing thought of how wonderful it would be to see the baby alligator in the grass get up and walk so I could marvel at it’s beautiful yellow markings… and then it DID just that. This daily looking for and recording of gifts keeps all the character of God right in front of my mind and heart. How can I NOT see his beauty, majesty, mercy, forgiveness, righteousness! How can I not be affected; how can I NOT know his presence; how can I NOT get caught up in worship! Lest you think this is about me, let me assure you it is not. It is about God’s work in me. I was thinking about this testimony last week and feeling completely disqualified to even give it. It had been a difficult week of conflict; of having my sin revealed to me; of feeling physically, emotionally and spiritually spent. And somewhere in the midst of that mess, I recalled that in the preceding couple of weeks somehow I had gotten too busy to look for the gifts. When I quit looking for the gifts, my heart of gratitude and worship dried up. I had failed to fix my eyes on God! God’s gracious hand led me back and then I realized, the qualification wasn’t in being perfect at what I had started but in allowing God to grow and change me in the process. After all, isn’t that where we all live? In our imperfections and failures but with a deep desire for more of him! A simple request answered by the God who knows me and hears me and promised “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Delighting in seeing the hand and face of God through these gifts, now, are becoming more and more the desires of my heart.

Look around you! See the gifts! Fix your eyes on him!

“Be Thou my vision oh Lord of my heart; Nought be all else to me save that Thou art. Thou my best thought in the day and the night; waking or sleeping, thy Presence my light!”